Elafonisi Beach in Crete

Famous for its pink-hued sands (created by the pink and red shells crushed by the sea), Elafonisi Beach is located on the southwestern corner of Crete − the largest island in Greece. Featuring a scenic landscape with the blue waters of the Mediterranean lapping against pink sand dunes, this beach is set on a narrow landmass surrounded by crystal-clear waters, ideal for snorkeling. Reachable by car, boat or bus, Elafonisi Beach and its quiet location gives visitors a sense of being away from it all, though the beach’s Instagram-ready setting makes it a popular spot for tourists, especially from May to September. If you’re looking to get away from the crowds, or just seeking a bit of solitude, wander away from the parking area or wade through the lagoon’s warm and knee-deep water to reach the island. Since the beach is part of a protected nature preserve, visitors should note the following are not allowed: umbrellas (except those provided), fires, camping, littering and damaging plants.

While the beach and lagoon are shallow and generally calm, the sea surrounding the area is treacherous and has witnessed multiple shipwrecks. Because of this, the chapel and shrine close to the lighthouse are dedicated to the patron saint of sailors, Agios Nikolaos (St. Nickolas).

This picture-perfect beach makes a great daytrip from Chania (situated about 45 miles northeast of Elafonisi), where you’ll find a variety of hotel options including Casa Delfino Hotel.